Last year one of our neighbours stopped in the lane, on her ATV, for a quick chat. “Do you want some holly? I’m just going across the fields to cut some.”

“No thanks very much, but we prefer to pick it a bit nearer to Christmas.”

“So do I normally but the birds are stripping the berries so fast now that I don’t expect they’ll be any left by Christmas.”

As she drove off I remember thinking that we would be fine as the big tree at the top of our field was laden with big fat shiny red berries.

How wrong I was. Within a week we’ve had snow and the heavily laden tree was bare and empty – not a berry to be had anywhere.

There is not a single berry to be had; so this year I will have to make sure I beat the birds unless I want to resort to actually buying some holly to add some colour to my Christmas wreath.

I love making Christmas decorations and have always thought that country winter decorations should lean towards using plenty of greenery and simple homemade items. A beautiful evergreen wreath will set the scene and let visitors know that they are in for a real country Christmas. You can create a beautiful living wreath by winding trails of holly and ivy round a hoop made from plain steel or bare-twigs.

To vary the design you can add pieces of fir, mistletoe sprigs, pine cones sprayed with fake snow and dried fruit. Finish your wreath off with a large plain or tartan bow at the top, traditional colours of red and green are the most popular but antique gold can also work well. Or hang silver bells from ribbon at the bottom.

You could for a change put an evergreen wreath with ivory candles in the middle of a table or make a herbal Christmas wreath by wiring dried herb bunches to a grapevine wreath covered in ivy and adding chillies, bouquet garni, tiny icicles and a velvet bow.

Other lovely ideas for decorating for Christmas with country greenery are huge trails of ivy, bunches of mistletoe tied with raffia, pine cones wired into sprays, blue and gold fir branches, dried cow parsley heads with glitter, birch or hazel twigs painted white, twisted willow, fat rose hips- sprayed with fake snow, bright green moss tucked round great bowls of hyacinths, aromatic branches of eucalyptus and beautiful silver or gold variegated holly.

I have always tried to bring the beauty of outdoors indoors for the Christmas season, decorating the tops of cupboards, pictures and oak dressers with evergreen branches, ivy and masses of holly interspersed with green velvet or red tartan ribbon weather.

Another idea I have found to be very attractive is to push masses of white-painted birch twigs into a wicker basket that is weighted down and then wind tiny white lights around the branches. Several of these simple, but sophisticated, lit-up twig displays strategically placed in a large area can be quite dramatic and even a talking point.

My final touch is to make the house smell nice by placing round the house bowls of pine needles, fir cones, fir tree cuttings and dried orange slices with a few drops of essential oils, such as orange and cinnamon. These scented bowls make a wonderful Yuletide pot pourri and mix splendidly with the aroma of hot mulled wine!